There was much uncertainty on the participation of the Dominica women`s volleyball team for the recently concluded Pool C 2018 World Volleyball Championship Qualifiers NORCECA Continental held at the National Cycling Centre, Couva, because of the devastation caused after the passage of Hurricane Maria.
The catastrophic hurricane claimed seven lives and destroyed the island that is known for its tropical rainforests.
The country with a population of 70,000 last experienced such a disaster in 1979 from Hurricane David.
Despite the obvious limitations, their volleyball team were determined to participate in the tournament. Their travel plans were altered as they took a boat to St Lucia then a flight to Trinidad.
Dominican player Shari Pascal emotionally recalled the nightmare of September 18.
“We are survivors! Going through a Category 5 hurricane was not easy because it came on us really quickly. We were expecting a Category 3 but we didn’t get any further news because persons had already lost communication. We lost a lot, Hurricane Maria didn’t take only our houses, it changed our lives. Things are completely different now.”
Vividly describing the ordeal while holding back the tears she said, “There were winds that shook concrete houses, tore through steel and destroyed things that we thought would always be with us. Dominica is known for its greenery but right now it is brown, completely brown.”
Optimistically she continued, “We believe we will rise again! I can assure you that you never ever want to experience a hurricane. We are grateful to be here and we are grateful for life.”
The Dominica team qualified for this final round World Championship 2018 qualifiers after being runners-up in the Eastern Caribbean Zonal Championship earlier this year.
Dominica coach Albert Loblack spoke about the difficulties in preparing for the qualifiers.
“We lost quite a bit of training time because we don`t have a venue anymore because Hurricane Maria took away our training facility.
“Also, it took some time to gather everyone because of no communication all over the island.”
When asked what was next on the agenda, Loblack replied, “Go home to rebuild, fix our homes and clear the streets then start all over again.”
He went on further to say, “It was a nice experience, it showed us a lot, it opened our eyes and we have noted the things that we need to improve on.
“The players saw and experience for themselves and I hope it changed their outlook on the sport. At this level it requires more in terms of preparation and training time. We are going to reshuffle, rebuild and come again better and stronger.”